Coastguards’ warning after arson near Beachy Head

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Walkers are being warned to give themselves extra time after an arson attack destroyed steps at Beachy Head at the weekend.

The steps which walkers would normally use to get access the beach at Cow Gap have been destroyed effectively shutting off the route between the beach and footpaths.

Eastbourne Coastguards manager Steve Dann said that people walking from Birling Gap to Eastbourne should remember they need to carry on walking to Holywell instead.

“The stairs down to the beach have been destroyed and there is no access,” said Mr Dann.

Two coastguard rescue teams, a helicopter, police officers and a dog team were sent to the scene of the arson early evening on Saturday.

Initially a call was received from a member of the public concerned that a man was “acting erratically” at Cow Gap.

A spokesperson for Sussex Police said officers and a dog unit were dispatched to the area between Cow Gap and Beachy Head, meeting up with the coastguards.

“Once on scene it was apparent the male had set alight to some stairs,” said a police spokesperson.

“The coastguard led officers to where male had taken cover. With assistance of the dog unit they arrested the male.”

The dog found a man in the bushes, police say, and he was arrested on suspicion of arson and taken into custody.

Anyone with any information should contact Acting Sergeant Atfield by calling 101.